North Team uses fourth quarter burst to win second Elite Junior Classic

The South Team was in control, leading 38-28 with under three minutes left before the North Team stormed back with 17 unanswered points to claim a 45-38 victory and win the Elite Junior Classic for the second straight year. The North Team’s late comeback was part of a 25-point scoring outburst in the final quarter and it was fueled by a late touchdown grab by K.J. Hancock that proved to be the game-winner. Hancock, a North Gwinnett receiver, finished the game with three touchdowns, including the go-ahead 31-yard touchdown grab from Stockton McGuire (Landmark Christian) with 1:58 left to give the North Team a 42-38 lead.

Hancock was a late addition to the Elite Junior Classic and only got the opportunity to play in the game when his North Gwinnett teammate Josh Imatorbhebhe injured his foot this postseason and could not participate. Hancock came into the Elite Junior Classic with just 11 catches all season in the star-studded North Gwinnett offense, but would finish Monday with nine catches for 150 yards to go with his three touchdowns and walked away with the Overall MVP honors.

“I have never had a game like this in my life,” admitted Hancock. “I knew I wanted to come out and try to make plays but I was not expecting to score three touchdowns and have a game like this.”

Before the North offense ignited in the fourth quarter, it was the South Team’s passing game that was controlling much of the game. Blessed Trinity quarterback Conor Davis turned in a four-touchdown performance with 20-of-26 passing and 357 yards through the air. Davis’ first touchdown pass was on a scramble that eventually went to Marion County’s Lorenzo Smothers over the middle. Davis’ pass sailed over the head of Smothers, but with one hand, Smothers leapt and secured the highlight-reel catch before diving into the endzone for the touchdown. Two minutes later, the South team was on the board again as Davis connected with Tyler Simmons, who then pitched back to Sam Jackson on the hook and ladder for a 55-yard touchdown to extend the lead to 21-10. Hancock answered the Jackson touchdown with an 11-yard touchdown reception from McGuire that cut the South Team’s halftime lead to 21-17.

The North Team opened the second half with a 34-yard Chase Staton (Gainesville) field goal before Davis found Tray Eafford (Lee County) for a 59-yard touchdown pass. McGuire knotted it up at 28-28 with a 26-yard North touchdown pass to D.J. Owens (North Paulding) on the first snap of the fourth quarter but Alex Barbir (South Forsyth) booted a 51-yard field goal and Davis found Colquitt County’s Kiel Pollard on a 7-yard touchdown pass to put the South Team back up by 10 points (38-28). North quarterback Joseph Mancuso (Union County) found Owens for his second score to cut it to 38-35 and Staton executed a perfect onside kick that was recovered by Jesse Reverio (Cedar Grove) to keep the ball in the North Team’s hands. McGuire took advantage of the opportunity and hit Hancock for the 31-yard clinching score.

The South Team got a final chance but Sandy Creek’s Javon Jackson stole the hook and ladder attempt and ran it all the way to the South 10-yard line to set up a late Staton field goal. The South Team finished with 428 total yards of offense to the North Team’s 408 total yards. Roswell’s Marcelino Ball turned in 10 tackles to lead the North team and included one tackle for the loss, while earning the Defensive MVP. Davis walked away with Offensive MVP with his four touchdown passes.




Tags: , , , ,

No comments yet.

Leave a Reply